Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Gifts – December 23, 2012

All the canning I did through the year is really paying off.  We made lots of holiday baskets for our friends, co-workers and neighbors.  Each is filled with one of my canned goods as a gift of warmth and home.  We also included John’s famous chocolate toffee to bring sweetness in the coming year and spiced nuts or jam cakes to bring a little spice.  Finally, we included a lottery ticket to bring luck in 2013.  (For our out of state friends and relatives, we also added a mini bottle of bourbon to add a bit of Kentucky.)

We decided to make the jam cakes this year because not only are they traditional to Kentucky, but they have a great holiday spice flavor and they are a great way to use up both the applesauce I made earlier in the year and berry jam.  There are many recipes, some including caramel icing, but this one is really rich and yummy and can be made any type of jam.  Traditionally, you would make as a large cake, but I made mini bundts and loaves to share.

Jam Cakes

1 c. sugar
½ c. shortening
1 egg
1 ½ c. applesauce
1 c. berry jam (I used blueberry, but blackberry is the most traditional)
2 tsp. soda
2 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cocoa
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. raisins
1 c. nuts (optional, but I used walnuts harvested from our property)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream sugar and shortening.  Add egg and mix in.  Sift flour, salt, cocoa and spices together.  Add soda to applesauce and jam.  Mix well.  Combine the three mixtures in one large pan and mix well.  Add raisins and nuts.  Pour into greased pans.  Bake up to an hour for a large bundt or as little as 30 minutes for small bundts.

OK, we buy every item to make toffee, so there is no using what you have here unless you own a cow that provides you with lots of milk for butter.  But, everyone requests the toffee each year, so it’s always included in our gift bags.  It’s also really easy, so I suggest adding it to your gift bags as well.

 Chocolate Toffee

2 sticks butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. slivered almonds (you can leave this out for those with nut allergies)
1 T. light corn syrup
1 T. water
1 11.5 oz. bag milk chocolate chips (you can use semi sweet if you prefer)

Add all ingredients except chocolate in a heavy pan on stove and heat (stirring constantly) for approximately 8 minutes.  OK, this is the only difficult part of this recipe, but after you make it a couple times you’ll get your own feel for it.  The toffee when ready will take on a color about the shade of brown sugar; you’ll start to smell a change and see a bit of smoke.  Quickly pour this onto a cookie sheet already on your counter and spread evenly.  Pour the chocolate chips on top and let sit for a minute.  Now, spread the chocolate on top of the toffee and place in the fridge for an hour.  Break and eat.  

Happy Holidays All!

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